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When Did 80% Become Good Enough?

Every winter, my interest turns to buying and selling a few guns. I call it the ‘Change of Seasons’. I love the Remington 870 and Ithaca Model 37 shotguns. I also love the Colt 1911 in 45 ACP.  There is just something about a firearm that is as good today as it was 100 years ago.

Now you know I am not one of those rich boys. Every year I try to horse trade a little bit and upgrade the personal stash of firearms without a bunch of hard dollars being exchanged. I also adhere to the same rule I used when I was buying and selling cars. Know your product. So I tend to stick with what I know.

Thank God I live in the Republic of Texas where we can still engage in face to face transactions involving firearms of all kinds with a minimum of bureaucratic intervention. With that being said, I still haunt the online gun auctions like Gunbroker and Auction Arms for those ‘special guns’. I was on Gunbroker before Christmas and ran across a real sweetie. It was a Colt Combat Commander Gold Cup National Match. That was a mouthful, huh? The Combat Commander is an all steel version of the well tested 1911 Government Model 45 except the barrel has been shortened from 5″ to 4.25″. It has the same grip configuration as the venerable Government Model and accepts the same magazines. Anyway, this particular Colt was something of a rarity. In 1991-1992, the Colt Custom Shop manufactured exactly 500 of these beauties in Colt Blue. Some experts allow it was the finest combat handgun ever produced.

So I came across this Colt on Gunbroker and I bought it -yes, I did. The seller advertised it as ‘Mint’ and almost ‘NIB’ –which is gun parlance for New in Box. During the various emails back and forth I questioned the condition.

An idiot mark on a Colt 1911

I told him I was trusting that it did not have an ‘idiot mark.’ An ‘idiot mark’ is the sign of sloth and newbie stupidity when it comes to Colt 1911’s. When you disassemble the 1911, the slide stop has to come out to remove the slide and barrel. When you put it back together, if you do not know what you are doing, you create the ‘idiot mark’ when you clumsily attempt to re-insert the slide stop. On a gun of this note and with a seller with such stellar feedback, I figured it was a superfluous question. Imagine my horror, when I got an email back from Jeffrey in Georgia that the gun, in fact, did have the unacceptable ‘idiot mark’. What? I thought it was Mint and NIB. Jeffrey was glib and said basically ‘ What is the big deal?’ The big deal dude is the description– I took you at your word. A glaring scrape on the side of the pistol is not mint. I guess he sensed the sale going south and said he would take it to his gunsmith for repair.

So two days passed and Jeffrey submitted new pics for my approval… and this young Georgia boy was getting an attitude that I did not care for. It was like ‘ Why are you being such a particular old Texas fart’ The emails went on and on. I finally shut it down when I sent him ‘ Say what you mean. Mean what you say.’ What is so hard about that? If he had described the gun as being in 95% condition, I probably would have still purchased it.

Miss Kathy likes her firearms. She brought a Winchester 1894 Trapper Carbine and a Colt SAA into this union. I checked her out on my full sized Government Colt and she was scary good. I had purchased the new 1911 with the idea it would be a good Christmas present for Miss Kathy and also add to the common caliber armory carried on the Old Girl.

So we were getting close to the Christmas deadline and I was getting concerned.  Most online gun transactions involve a USPS money order and I knew I had to get the funds out so Georgia Jeffrey could get the Colt to me in time to put it under the tree.   In his ad on Gunbroker,  he stated he would ship FedX Overnight so I knew what parameters I was dealing with.    I was riding that bulldozer everyday so Miss Kathy had to go down to the Post Office and do all the transacting.   She had been doing this for some prior purchases so I hoped she would not think it out of the ordinary.   The money got to Georgia and I was thinking ‘Hell Yeah, I pulled it off’.  Georgia Jeffrey sent me the tracking code and I logged on to the FedX website and saw it had been sent 3 Day Ground!!! WTF?  I emailed  Georgia Jeffrey and asked him just what was going on in very pointed language.  He forgot.  He had sick kids at home and problems at work and all kinds of stuff that afforded excuses.   I was crushed.  I was sitting here reading his pitiful emails  and looking at Miss Kathy.  I felt like dog crap.

So come Christmas Day, Miss Kathy had a few presents under the tree and I explained what had happened to her main present.

Colt Combat Commander Gold Cup National Match

She was understanding but I felt nauseous. Georgia Jeffrey said ‘ What is the big deal? It only got there 2 days late.’

Folks, tell me something. When did we turn into a nation where an 80% effort is good enough? When did an 80% effort become acceptable? I emailed this to Georgia Jeffrey when he took offense to my being ‘so particular’:

Maybe I am just naive in my expectations. I get disappointed in that respect almost daily.

One of the problems with this country is lowered expectations. I deal with it everyday with employees and vendors. 80% effort seems to be enough to get by — and they always have a most excellent excuse.

End Note: Four Chambered Heart by Tom Russel from the Love and Fear cd.  One of Miss Kathy’s faves.

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5 comments to When Did 80% Become Good Enough?

  • don

    I sure hope the gun is what you wanted; this guy is obviously a total asshole. I’ve gotta say, I probably wouldn’t have done business with him after the NIB lie. 80% is NOT what this country is all about!

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  • ‘idiot mark’

    Hey, I resemble that remark!

    At least it’s on a very basic Springfield model and not a Gold Cup National Match.

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  • Casey

    Andy, I just found your blog and enjoy the read. You’re so right on the 80 % effort attitude of many folks now-a-days. We see it in all venues, and the attitudes have increased in regard to those buying and selling firearms and firearm related items such as ammo, magazines, and holsters.

    I see the attitude quite often at local gun shows I attend here in the Metroplex. Over priced guns, holsters and ammo, with some sellers at the shows apparently only there to “show” their guns and items and not really interested in selling as they refuse to barter on common handguns that are marked up 20% or more over actual retail.

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    […] Andy is a 53 year-old full time RVer who blogs about lots of things guys are age care about, history, motorhomes, life,women and guns. […]

  • jim walden

    For what it is worth…there is hope. I have been teaching that exact principle for 15 years in Alaska schools. Kids learn in my class that one minute late, is late. It’s really tough when their parents are the worst offenders but a lot of us in this business are still keeping the bar raised.
    61 days to retirement and fulltiming. Texas, here I come!

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